Photo: Eric Bress
Throughout the construction of Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State power brokers like Joe Battista and Guy Gadowsky promised the most intimidating student section in college hockey. Many can recite their points from heart by now: the approximately 1,000 seats will be virtually as big as the entire Greenberg Ice Pavilion, the PIA's low ceiling will bottle in noise, and the steep-as-code-allows block of seats will be located behind the opposing goaltender for two periods per game.
Of course, design can only do so much, with the rest up to the people inhabiting those seats. But so far, Penn State students have played their part to perfection, as the newly-christened Roar Zone will be packed for at least the 12 Nittany Lions home games offered in the student ticket package (the other six games fall on breaks and will be sold as single-game tickets at a later date).
The packages went on sale Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. in the HUB, but the line actually began some 12 hours before that - eventually numbering close to the Roar Zone's capacity, snaking throughout the building, and dwarfing a simultaneous line for tickets to a Jay-Z concert on January 31, 2014 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Wait, did I say "snaking throughout the building?" My mistake.
Photo: Leah Blasko
By approximately 11:15, and due to massive wait times harming class attendance, Penn State shut down the process by collecting contact information from those in line and handing out numbered notecards. The athletic department will then reach out to those students based on line position, eventually distributing remaining tickets online. Technically, the Roar Zone isn't sold out yet, but that seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. The Daily Collegian's Darian Somers reported that, according to a PSU spokesperson, 700 student seats remain (meaning that just over 300 were sold through the original plan) and that anyone receiving a notecard will have a shot at that inventory.
Tuesday's turnout, as much as anything, once again proved the drawing power of Pegula Ice Arena, particularly when contrasted with last year's student sale for the first varsity season at the Ice Pavilion, which drew some diehards at about 5:00 in the morning but ultimately only had 56 people in line when the doors opened at 7.
Some rushed to declare this year's explosion of interest a sign that hockey would quickly overtake basketball as Penn State's number two sport. I'm not quite ready to take that leap yet, because in my perception, the excitement at this point is mostly for the arena and not necessarily the team playing in it. The hope, obviously, is that down the road, "arenaarenaarena" turns into the mainstreamers talking about things like what should be a fantastic goalie battle between Eamon McAdam and Matt Skoff, some tough decisions elsewhere in the lineup, predictions for the coming season and even recruiting. I believe that will come in time, but it's not there just yet.
Regardless, let's reset to the here and now. I, for one, can't wait to hear the noise level generated by a group of students who, quite literally, broke the planned ticketing process. See you guys on October 11th.